Category Archives: emotions

Culture Shock. part 1

I can’t deny it anymore. Within 10 days we move out of Qatar to the Netherlands. 
We’re in transition mode;
The household is being divided in; what’s going to ‘suit case’, ‘freight container’ and ‘what to be sold’; The heart is out of the house, it’s not a home anymore;
Everybody is agitated and sad.
And we have to bid our farewells to people whom we know we’re not going to see anymore.

The transition stage is the first stage of a culture shock.
Culture shock is the anxiety and emotional stress when your physical surrounding and people change; When you come to live and/or work in different circumstances as what was considered normal, felt familiar and comfortable. 
It’s a process of change in your identity; process of letting go old values, expectations, behaviour and thinking patterns and adopting new ones.

Transition/detachment stage; 
The transition and detachment starts in the current country, when the decision to move becomes a reality and you’ve to start planning and thinking ahead; It’s the start of ‘letting go’ and saying farewells. You come to realise what you’ve got and what you have to let go.
For most people it’s a time of strong mixed feelings; Excitement (positive and negative) of the new adventures ahead and the grief of letting go.

For me, this time, this transition, I miss the excitement of a new adventure as we’re going to our home country. I know what to expect and not to expect.
Yet I already know I will have a difficult time to adjust again because it won’t be the same as I’ve got a lot of expectations and I’ve changed too. 
I do not have the curiosity and flexibility in my mindset to accept my new surroundings in the way they are now as they won’t be the way the were when I left.

I’ll miss the people, the friends, the community we belong to.
I’ll miss Qatar’ I love living in a country which grows and see changes for the better; 
I’ll miss the weather, the warmth and the sun. 
I’ll miss my freedom.



Yesterday we were on the souq. (The souq is a traditional version of a shopping mall or a market hall.)
In ‘our’ souq we’ve got a ‘pet’ section.
“And oh my heart broke”. The way these poor birds and animals are being treated; In the heat, in to small cages, animals which aren’t pets or are becoming extinct.
I would love to buy them all and give them a better live.
Now my children are already so wise that they know that we can’t take them to Europe as they’re forbidden, that the birds would die here anyway in the heat and that the merchants would acquire replacement immediately, no matter from where.
They’re soooooo wise and responsible and won’t have the good feeling of having saved that one big turtle and let it roam in our garden.

It’s interesting to see how people react differently on that animal souq;
A good friend of mine avoids the animal souq. Another goes on the barricades. Tourists come and amaze themselves and taking pictures. Locals buy there their chickens and other show birds, boys get a pet to teach them responsibilities.
The guys who sell the animals (which are not the merchants!!) have no clue how cruel it is for those pets in the perspective of us westerners, who won’t see animal tragedies in daily live anymore. In case they have some idea, it’s from western television from the petambulance series or pictures of animal abuse in the media, which are not great either.
Then you have the merchants who buy and sell the animals….. I would tend to judge them, but then again they’re only trying to keep up their responsibilities to their wive(s) and the rest of the family, which in most cases is not easy either as there is no social security at all.

I like that animal souq, not because of the animals -I’m to much of a softy- for that. But because all the mixed feelings that it triggers in me, it makes me aware of my own values/thoughts/ convictions/believes, which learns me to see things through in a different perspective. I don’t have to agree but at least I can understand and accept that the world is not always the way I would have liked it and that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. 
It’s a way of learning to enjoy our differences.

Dutch elections

Last week the Dutch (people from the Netherlands) elected their parlement.
Being Dutch, I hardly dared to look at the outcome the next day. I was so afraid for the shock in case one of the right winged parties would have won; Like the shock of Brexit, like the shock of Trump. The shock that so many people are that narrow-minded that they think ugly shouting men are the solutions to their frustrations; That they don’t have faith in democracy anymore.
The ultra right winged parties didn’t win, that was a relief but still they gained!

I’m thaught to live through my fears so I started to explore and try to understand the people who make such choices and I start to understand why.
I do understand it’s frustrating;
When your child needs extra support in school and there is no money for extra support for your child but there is for immigrant children;
When you can’t get a decent, cheap place to live and refuge families get houses,
When you don’t believe in the idea of a united and solidair Europe.

I do understand as well that the people who are in charge have to keep an eye on the big picture;
That children who can speak, read and learn in the local language can become useful citizen (i.e. tax paying citizen) and that kids in school don’t cause too much trouble to society;
That immigrants/refugees have to live somewhere too, they don’t have another choice then live in cheap houses;
That the more immigrants mix into Dutch society the more chance of integration, besides autochtone people are able to pay a bit more for housing than immigrants do;
That it’s good for the Dutch economy, who’s depending on trade to have free boundaries in Europe.

I got it.

What I do not understand is that apparently it is too hard to listen to what people are trying to say and take their concerns seriously or make the effort to explain in a language that a majority of people understand to explain why the decisions are been taking that way.

If you can’t explain decisions in a normal understandable way how should people trust you?

Politics in western societies seem to be stuck in procedures rather than solutions for the problems the people are facing.
I call that intellectual arrogance and I hope, I really, really hope that western leaders have had their wake up call.
The world is much more complicated and changing so fast, it’s asking for fast solutions as well.
A problem asks for a solution not a procedure which is probably out dated by the time it’s finally implemented!



Last week I wrote about fear. But writing about fear made me realise that fear also has got everything to do with trust.
Fear is a lack of trust; a trust that ‘it will be alright’.
In many ways I’m very privileged; I come from a society where I can trust the health system, police and government; that they will try to; keep- and make me healthy and act according the law and if not I can go to court. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything but at least I know I have got rights.
I’m also confident with myself that I’ve got enough knowledge and strength to solve the problems I met.

Here in the Middle East I haven’t got that trust. As a white, confident and independent woman you never can be sure; If, how and when you will be judged when/if you do something wrong (even if other men do the same). Let alone the consequences.
I think this very uncomfortable feeling, comes close to fear.
I can feel it in my throat; like a bone stuck deep in my throat.
I’ve got that feeling too when I’m watching the news or reading papers? 
I don’t trust journalism anymore;
-knowing how journalist get their information,
-knowing how news depends on the point of view,
-knowing what kind of news ‘sales’ and
-knowing that certain news will reach me and other news won’t because I’m not in the ‘liking’ list.

It makes me afraid because I don’t have the control anymore over my trust in the things I hear/ read which are the base of my ideas of good and bad, my values and I have no idea how to solve this problem.
It makes me frustrated and angry. 
I hear and see a lot of signs that other people feel the same. And that’s scary, because I know by experience that for me ‘it will be allright’ I’ve been in more similar situations of loss of control and feeling out of my comfort zone but I know most people haven’t and I don’t trust most people to act in a smart way as I know that fear will interfere with the ability of people to think logically and ahead.


What’s society so afraid of?


Have you ever been afraid? really feared for your existance; your life, your way off living? Well, I have. And it makes you shrink, your body, your brain, everything stops and you want to crawl back into a save place, and shut the door and window for everything. All creative thinking of how to solve a situation and a problem seem to have vanished into thin air.
Fear stinks, literally. Animals with a good sense of smell can be agressive when they smell fear, to protect themself and their flock/family.

Basically, fear is a healthy emotion when people feel threatened or endangered. The energy, emotions tend to produce, make it possible to react; freeze, run or attack.

When I look to western societies, nowadays, I see and smell fear.
I’m wondering what people fear so much?
There’s not a realistic life threatening fear, a fear the only solution is to run from it.
But what causes the fear that people want to close borders and shut themselves of from groups which made them stronger?
Is it fear for the continuity of their way of life?
Why people close their minds, their hearts, their houses, their borders.
A step further will be agression, as some people believe that attack is the best defence (very much a basic animal instinct, which people should be outgrown after 10.000.000 years).

I think it must have something to do with an invasion of influences that are threatening a away of live materialistic and inmatelerialistic (as; thoughts/ believes/ convictions/values of good and bad.)
The recession in a big part of the world
of the past 10 years have made many people uncertain and fearsome for their income, financial safety and the possibilties to maintain their way of live. 
In social democratic societies as in western europe, people saw how their social security (retirement, health care, education, right of income) was decreasing or getting very expensive. They saw how their values, as liberty and equality, meant that they had to share with even less fortunate. (It’s easier to blame those poor soles then reconsider your values).

“The more you’ve got the more you’ve got to lose”
That counts specially for the aging population of western europe, plus the older people get the more fearsome they are.

Because of globalisation you see that different thoughts/believes/convictions/values traditions and behaviour invade everyday live, and threaten peoples own original thoughts/believes/convictions/values/traditions/behaviour and cultural heritage.

A healthy and wise response to the emotion fear (very short) is to acknowledge the emotion fear, then you can research what it is exactly that makes you so afraid and think of a way how to handle it.
Societies are in someways just big bodies and should react the same -grown up- reaction as a normal human body.


The art of gifts and presents

Most people have got positive feelings by gifts and presents. In my case it makes me nervous.

The word gift, tells me that it’s about a thing you give without expecting something in return.
How the word ‘present’ actually is related to the gift is not really stated. My guess is that it has to do with the French word for ‘presence’ which means that you’re on that spot/that you’re there and to prove it ,you give something.

In a multi cultural live I find any occasion which involves presents/gifts very uncomfortable.
?What occasions are appropriate to give presents of gifts?

?How much do you (want to) spend on a present? Based on how close you are? based on financial situation? based on what you got before? 
?What’s the local custom? 

?Do you embarass somebody with a too small/big or too cheap/expensive present? 

?What can you give to who? Can a man give a present to a woman or visa versa?

?Do you give everybody the same value?
?Do you give something you think the other would appreciate?

?Do you give something you like and show something of your identity?
?Do you open presents or not?

?How much effort is the actual presentation/packing?

To be honest, I still don’t know, how to act cultural intelligent in these situations.

I can’t say to my 4 children that they can’t accept all the birthday party invitations because off the expenses of the presents? Can I? Or embarrass the birthday boy or -girl with a cheap present because I rather spend my money on a family diner in a nice restaurant?
What do I give my host? bring in a dish/a bottle of wine? (which might be insulting as if you expect there won’t be enough). Chocolates (was she not on a diet?) or again flowers, a bouquet or a roomfilling arrangement? Should I decorate my gift or not?

The best thing to do is ask arround what others do in those situations. But still……

Me as a receiver, I feel very uncomfortable receiving overpriced presents, which I can’t and won’t return.
On the other hand it also makes me Feel Good that I mean so much to somebody else.
I, also do love to give presents from which I’m sure it would make the other happy, even if they’re expensive. A GIFT, but that’s from the heart.
Actually this tells a lot about me; for me PRESENTS are a kind of trade. A trade of a good feeling/gratitude/happiness or a return present.
 That’s probably also the reason that I like to see when somebody is unwrapping my present. And exactly the reason why I very much understand people who rather don’t unwrap untill they’re alone in case they’re dissapointed.

This is my love and hate story with presents and gifts.
I’m very interested in other -juicy- stories and experiences from all over the world.IFGAblogperson

Moving, routines and habits

I’m very sorry I didn’t write my blog last week. 
We were moving house.
I’ve done it many times before, locally and internationally. 
The move it self does not nerve me very much. It’s physsically hard work as I want it to be over as fast as possible. I want to live and not being occupied by the boxes and the move for weeks. So it took me 4 days to pack the old home and making a new home. After that my body was tired, alright. But nothing a good nights sleep and some rest can’t fix.
No it’s the weeks and months after the actual move which are the hardest.
A move nationally or internationally is one of the biggest stress factors in life.

People build -concious and unconcious- a lifestyle and a have a picture in their brain of life, which is normal, good and safe; People build a routines, habits, behaviour which fit in that lifestyle. (That might not be the lifestyle they like or want, but what’s as comfortable possible in that certain special situation which is different from person to person).

When you move all those big and little routines, habits and behaviour needs to change.
The closer your move is the less you have to adjust, the further away you move the more you’ve to adjust and get used to and build a new sort of ‘lifestyle’.
This time I moved only locally, 20 km the most. But I moved from a rural green area to a busy business and building area. No more birds sounds, but traffic and generators. The kids are much closer to school and can walk to the mall, when weather allows. Morning traffic is huge so no quick early morning shopping. Where is a gym and how do the these machines work? Where is the doctor? and will it be a nice one as the one before? Can I find the toilet at night in the dark? When I cook on gas won’t the house explode? Oh dear the neighbours have small children where I have teenagers who seem to live on times when they might like to sleep?
They are just simple little things but I’m out of my comfort zone. I know I will grow into it fast enough this time and have a new routine and habits, who are not better or worse than my former routine and habits but just different which will fit better in this place.

So because of the morning traffic I started working early, when everybody is on their way, then go en route do my groceries etc., come back and start working again.
That is a routine which might work but now I find how hard it is for me to get back in the flow of the writing and focus again on the same topic.
I find it very uncomfortable and frustrating. The other hand is that I discovered and learned now that I need some time to get into the flow and that what I write in the early morning is different then the same topic later during the day.
It’s very interesting how the human brain works when emotions gets involved and how a big or a small culture shock can make you aware.
That’s probably why it’s my job and I developed workshops ‘culture shock, how to survive home sickness’ and ‘multicultural intelligence’